It’s only 3 games into the 19/20 NHL season but there are definitely some implications on who is going to have a strong season. The Canes played the Lightning like childrens’ toys in their 4-3 OT win last Sunday plus the Leafs, Golden Knights and Blues have had excellent starts to their season.
On the other hand, there are teams that have looked very sluggish out of the gate. The Stars are still winless as well as the Coyotes and Canucks. What these teams have in common is that they all lost tight games and are due for a breakout. There are some teams however that appear to be in trouble early and that’s exactly what we’re going to look at:
San Jose Sharks
Team Needs: Goaltending
Losing your first two games to the rival Vegas Golden Knights to go along with dropping an uninspiring effort to the Ducks made the Sharks look like a merry-go-round fly into outer space. That’s how bad they looked so far. The goaltending tandem of Martin Jones and Aaron Dell played a major part of it. Jones’ save percentage last season was .896 which was bad enough but in his last 2 games, he has a save percentage of .862 and a goals-against average of 4.80. If this keeps up, he won’t be on the Sharks for long and the Sharks will be in full panic mode. Dell isn’t the guy that can step in either as his save percentage isn’t even above .900.
The good news is the Sharks can afford to trade a top 4 defenceman or a top 6 winger for goaltending help. Other teams will eye up guys like Hertl, Meier or Vlasic in exchange for a starting goaltender. The Sharks have a history of balancing their rosters and we may see history repeat itself.
Team Needs: Defence
Who would of thought the Jets would be without their entire backend they had last season right now? Probably nobody. That is no exaggeration either as Winnipeg is currently without, as I’m writing this, Morrissey, Kulikov and Byfuglien. Don’t forget they also lost Myers, Trouba and Chiarot during the off-season. As of right now, the Jets have their farm team’s defensive core from Manitoba as their starters. None of them look ready for NHL action. During their first 3 games of the season, the Jets have given up 14 goals, the worst in the league. It will continue unless something is done about it.
The Jets have a load of forwards they can use as bargaining chips. Ehlers was rumoured to be traded before and it’ll likely amplify again as the season goes on. The Jets can definitely make this move as they have Roslovic appearing ready to take on a top 6 role. Vesalainen is also developing nicely. Out of all NHL teams, the Jets need the most tweaks to balance their lineup.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Team Needs: Goaltending
You can change your team’s fortune around by using this one weird trick and that’s getting a NHL starting goaltender. Nobody is sold on Korpisalo and Merzlikins and they looked brutal during their opening games. Merzlikins has a save percentage of .825% during his game against Pittsburgh while Korpisalo has an .862%. If you want a lottery pick no matter who your forawrds or defence are, just have a couple of AHL goaltenders start in the NHL. Besides the lack of goaltending, the Jackets have a good blue-collar forward group and a stacked defense. While that’s great, it doesn’t matter if your goalies stink. The Jackets will be a playoff team again if they’re able to pull off a move for a NHL starting goaltender. GM Jarmo Kekelainen could talk to Stevie Y about bringing in Bernier or Howard as their new starter without giving up too much.